24.7.16

Momma Bird - a Mother's Day dedication

Caw!

Welcome to another entry of Where the birds at.

On this special day - known globally as Mother's Day (in South African time anyway), I will celebrating Mother's Day in this special segment of Where the birds at.

In dedication to my own mother, the other mothers in my family, and any other mother reading this blog, my gift to them will be a post that includes what this blog is about: birds.

My inspiration for this special post came about when deciding on what I can give to my mom on her special day that (as the cliche and/or proverb) that comes from the heart and put a personal spin on it.

After many ideas (ranging from chocolates, flowers and DIY Mother's Day gifts), it struck me that the perfect gift could be a written work from my own brain and fingers that reflects who I am as a person, but also reflecting what my Mom means to me, and what it means an avian mother in the natural world.


So - Mom - I dedicate this blog to you! Love You xoxoxox

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!!!!!!

To start off my discussion, today I will be covering the parenting behaviour of our avian friends - specifically in those of the females. It should also be noted that for the purpose of this entry, the birds will not be limited to those of SA, but also bird species from around the globe.

Within the world of parenting, the mother bird's duties (often share with the male) lies in the protection and well-being of her eggs and/or chicks, such as keeping the eggs warm and after the eggs hatch, protecting the chicks from predators and providing food.

Another thing to consider is that in most birds of prey, it is the female that is even bigger than the male.

Avian Courtship Displays

It should be remembered that it is not only within the bird world that the female of the species determines the mate she chooses, but also mammals, reptiles and insects reflects this.

However, the blog focuses on birds - it should be remembered that when it comes to the breeding game, it is the female bird that plays a significant role, and this is due to the following reasons:
  • Within the majority of bird species, it is the FEMALE that chooses the male, not the other way around, and this means that the males have to make themselves attractive to the female, thus resulting in the colourful and striking plumage that the males possess along with elaborate courtship dances. Which found in bird such as:
   -  Cape Sugarbird
   -  The Sunbirds
   -  Peacocks
   -  Whydahs
   -  Multiple others
  • It could also be said that due to the pickiness of the females, and through the process of natural selection, the present form of the bird species can be attributed to these females, thus the drab plumage seen in most females and the contrasting striking male plumage (mostly during the breeding season).
Avian Parenting

After the courtship stage has been completed, the next stage is of course the nest and the eggs.
Like the females of the human species, avian mothers have adopted various strategies in order to ensure their own offspring's survival, and these strategies vary from:
  • Co-parenting - where both the female and male play equal roles in the rearing of their chicks by sharing duties, such as protecting the eggs and/or chicks along with providing food for both chicks and the parent.
  • Patriarchal Parenting - this strategy refers to when the mother plays no part in the caring of the egg and/or chick, apart from laying the eggs. The male is the primary caretaker.
  • Maternal Parenting - this strategy is the opposite of the previous strategy - where the role of caretaker solely rests on the mother
  • Brood parasite - a familiar concept that is associated with cuckoos where neither parent is involved in the chick's rearing and the young is the responsibility of the host species. 
What is interesting about the concept of brood parasites is the evolutionary implications of it, such as the host species' adaptation to counteract with the parasite and then the parasite adapting in order to the new strategies adopted by the parents. It is really quite fascinating - I advise that you read up on it.

What fascinates me about the most about these brood parasites - the fact that the host mother of that nest cares for that parasite as their own even though the chick would grow to be much bigger than its adoptive parent.

When comes to protecting the eggs and/or young, mother birds - as already stated - has also adopted strategies in order to accomplish this, and this can be seen in the White-Fronted Plover.

She has adopted an ingenious strategy in order to protect her young and this is done in the circumstances when a predator is too close to the nest, and the female Plover then fakes an injured wing thus drawing the predators attention to her and away from the nest! Amazing!

The parenting instincts in birds can also be seen in:
  • the aggressive behaviour when something threatens the nest
  • co-operating with other species along with their own to ensure their offspring's survival.
I hope this entry will showcase the significance of female birds not only in their role in their species evolution but also what they will do in order to protect their own young and ensure their own species' survival.

Mom - I hope you enjoy my gift, and hope you have a happy mother's day and know I appreciate everything you have done and will do for me in the future <3 xoxoxo